The new year so far has been terrible. I fell ill on the 28th, and as I started to feel better on the 31st it was only to realize something was wrong with Frank. We don’t yet know why, but he sunk into ileus on the 1st. I suspect this isn’t about a straightforward blockage. We’re still nursing him through the ileus, and we won’t discover the real problem for awhile. Here’s the timeline:
- Mid-morning: A full litter box is scooped and replenished; Frank eats his breakfast and joins us in the bedroom for play-time; a perfectly normal bun.
- Midday: Frank settles down to sleep as usual.
- Afternoon: Frank rises briefly to drink some water.
- Evening: Frank doesn’t rise for dinner or play and hasn’t pooped all day; this is unusual but we’ve seen him like this before only to rise normally overnight, so we aren’t very concerned.
- Morning: Frank ate his dinner greens overnight but left his pellets and papaya tablet untouched; only a few poops in the litter-box; only a little water was consumed and urine output is on the low end; his mood is still reclusive, although he’s more responsive and relaxed than he was the last time (and only other time) we saw him in distress, so I feel hopeful.
- Day: No change; I begin treating Frank for gas: Simethicone (three doses of 20mg over 3-4 hours) and stomach massage.
- Early Afternoon: Frank lays down in his play-box for awhile, something he’s never done before, and panic is starting to set in; he hasn’t pooped, and now we’re finding cecotropes; I begin treating him for dehydration with watered-down Pedialyte and posting on discussion boards.
- Afternoon: Frank stops taking the Pedialyte so we bring him to the emergency vet hospital where they give him a physical exam (he has a normal temperature and a yucky-feeling belly), sub-q fluids, a small shot of pain meds (Torbugesic 0.3mg/kg), and a motility agent (Metoclopramide 0.5mg/kg); total cost $202.13.
- Night: Frank’s mood/behaviour doesn’t improve and he isn’t pooping or eating, although he’s peeing well and drinking some; we keep him warm with a heat-pack wrapped in a towel, and we sleep in his room on the sofa-bed.
- Morning: We call the vet when they open and bring him in immediately; they give him a physical exam (still a normal temperature) and outline a treatment plan consisting of meds and fluids, 3 days stay, and diagnostics (blood work, x-ray), costing a total of $2,000; we decline, and they outline plan B: meds to go home with us (Torbugesic, Metoclopramide, and Cisapride; and Critical Care), blood-work, and fluids administered that day and the next, to a total cost of $8-900; we agree and pay $609.09 for the day.
- Day to Evening: Frank’s mood/behaviour slowly improves; some water consumption and lots of peeing; he’s pretty obedient with taking his meds; no poops yet, he eats some cecotropes and leaves others behind.
- Morning: Frank poops overnight, small little things; we return to the vets for more sub-q fluids; poops are consistently coming, although still very small and misshapen; blood test results show low red blood cells and poor liver functions, so after a quick re-test we agree to a shot of iron and an appointment for the 11th to re-test for liver functions; a more in-depth exam of the mouth (involving a scope in the back-room) reveals some tooth spurs but no ulcers in the mouth (yet); possible causes of this bout of GI Stasis are described as liver problems (although this could also be as a result of the GI Stasis – hence the re-test scheduled for next week), dental discomfort (if Frank slips back after we stop the pain meds, that would be a sign), or physical blockage; bill comes to $180.94.
Since then I’ve been nursing Frank at home (luckily I have the week off work anyway). It’s been very exhausting and stressful, but Frank is slowly recovering. For awhile he was eating his Critical Care from a spoon, but yesterday, with his improving mood, he started resisting his meds and we’re back to syringe-feeding; he also started misbehaving last night, biting at baseboards and wire-guards. His activity levels are getting better, but he still isn’t really cuddling with us; although, he has started spending more time on his usual outlooks/places around the room. He’s been wary of us since getting sick, as we’ve been “bothering” him frequently with meds and belly massage.
Water, greens, and hay consumption, and urine output, have returned to normal or near-normal levels. He’s still not eating many pellets, just a bite or two here and there. His feces is looking more normal every day (in size, amount, shape, and consistency – they were a little mushy for awhile there). On the 4th and 5th we spoke with the vets on the phone, but today there hasn’t been a need. We’ve been slowly reducing his Critical Care. We’re still spending nights in his room.
It’s down to waiting, now, to see what happens when he goes off his meds and has another blood test. If this is about a dental problem, we’ll give him the surgery to grind down the spurs (although the last time he was put to sleep for surgery he had a bad reaction and gave the vets a good scare). If it’s about a liver problem, there isn’t much we can do for him. The vet started talking about ultrasounds and this and that, which we can’t afford, so she switched to talking about milk thistle (I think) and other things we can do to “support” liver function. That is what it will come down to. He is an old bun and anyway you can’t squeeze money from a rock (we’re the rock), no matter how much you want to.